Sunday, November 28, 2021
HomeDiariesTrinidad & Tobago - Day Twelve, Criterium Racing and Doubles

Trinidad & Tobago – Day Twelve, Criterium Racing and Doubles


I’m in Trinidad & Tobago, but in Fort William, which could be somewhere I saw in a movie; once you’re in the Tropics it seems to affect your perceptions of time and place, is where the Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial Championship is taking place, today – under the shadow of mighty Ben Nevis. Martin, our editor and web-guy is riding it and – strange though it may seem – I’d like to have been there.

Despite the total absence of non-cycling fraternity spectators and the fact that a high percentage of the field will be veterans, it’s a Scottish Championship and deserves a little bit of attention

Meanwhile, just off the coast of Venezuela, the sun splits the sky and it’s only that glorious wind from the ocean that makes life bearable.

Trinidad & Tobago
What a view – savannah and the arts centre.

It’s around 10:15 and we’re up at Fort Saint George with a drama on our hands; Rosebud – who is race series promoter, Michael Phillips’ mum – drove us up here to catch the marvelous vistas over Port of Spain.

But her 4×4 won’t fire up to make the trip down.

Trinidad & Tobago
Uh oh. It’s yer big end, Pete.

The British built the fort two hundred years ago but it never saw action – the big cannons still point out to sea, waiting on those French or Spanish Men o’ War, which will never come.

The capital sprawls around the base of the hill on the ocean side.

The city’s biggest green space, the Savannah – around which the opening race of the series took place – is clearly visible.

It was gifted to the people of Trinidad and can never be built upon.

Trinidad & Tobago
Just chillin’.

The futuristic – if owing a debt to Sydney Opera House – Trinidad Arts Centre sits beside it, built largely by Chinese labour, it invokes similar emotions to those that we have back in Scotland about the Parliament building – love or hate; nothing in the middle.

When Peter first visited here in 1995 there were just two high towers – but the petro dollars have made sure that shrines to capitalism reach for the sky, all over down town.

Rosebud’s mechanic rescued us but we had to get out to walk the ‘ramp’ where one part of the mountain slid down one metre and the two road levels is now taken up with a batch of concrete.

Trinidad & Tobago

Drop off was in cosmopolitan Saint James where it was ‘doubles’ time.

I’ve been promising to write about doubles all week – take a thin omelette base and pap a large dollop of chick pea curry in the middle.

Serve on grease proof paper, screw the end up to try to avoid curried shoes, bag, trousers, T-shirt… and get to work on it.

Trinidad & Tobago
They are superb – and relatively healthy.

Just across the way from our street vendor’s cart was legendary Trini watering hole, Smokey and Bunty.

Trinidad & Tobago
Smokey and Bunty.

The Stag is cold, the cool breeze blows in off the street and Trini sporting heroes look down on the punters, from the walls.

The sun is a fireball beneath which, ‘tiny mites,’ juveniles, juniors, BMX, masters and runners perform as the crowd gathers for the ‘All Stars’ race.

There’s a one lapper for the big riders; Franco rides a perfect lead out for Leif, swings off, and two Canadians zoom past.

What happened?‘ asks Franco – Leif shrugs; ‘bad legs.’

Carola finally gets the better of the local girls and gets to enjoy the view from the podium.

They present the prizes for last week’s track sprint tournament at Arima.

Speaker, Ronald Dickie tells us; ‘the rider who was second [Chiappa] had to return to Italy because of illness in the family.

Trinidad & Tobago
A little white lie from Ronald.

The shadows are longer for the big one but it’s still baking hot – riders pour bottles of waters over their helmets.

The circuit is ‘any crit, any where,’ two long straights linked by a short straight at one end and a sweeping curve at the other.

Trinidad & Tobago
Dan Harm keeps cool.

The surfaces are good and the wind makes the back straight a 50 kph plus job.

Early breaks ebb and flow but the one that sticks is Six Day stalwart Andreas Muller and Dan Harm – the big American has been getting stronger as the two weeks have progressed and today he’s flying.

Trinidad & Tobago
Harm and Muller motor.
Trinidad & Tobago
The fans on the back street are on rum and Coke; ‘here dey come, let’s big dem up!’

Canada chase but can’t harm Dan’s lead (sorry), Andreas’ face tells the story of how fast they are going.

Trinidad & Tobago
Ryan Sabgais hurting.

Along at the curved end of the course, guys are practicing passing a rugby ball – but a picnic table covered with an impressive array of beer and spirits leaves questions about how serious their sporting goals are.

Trinidad & Tobago
The rugby guys recovery drinks.

Across the road at the Harvard Club (members only) they’re out on the pavement to watch.

Trinidad & Tobago
Meanwhile, a giant Carib poster teases the riders about ice cold beer from on high.

Ronald offers $5,000 for the first rider to get across to break – that cash is safe.

The course passes the statue of calypso king, Lord Kitchener the old Roxy Cinema and back into the finish straight behind The Oval.

The gap is a minute and growing; five jump clear to avoid the ignominy of being caught by ‘Little and Large’ but eventually they drop the lap and it’s the usual chaos.

Trinidad & Tobago
Franco is the perfect lead-out man.

Pete reckons Harm might win, I figure that Andreas has got round too many Sixes to blow it now – if Bruno Risi can’t drop Andreas, I can’t see Dan Harm doing it.

Franco rides locomotive for the last lap and Andreas comes home just behind third placed (but lapped) Walter Perez to clinch it.

Trinidad & Tobago
Andreas calls home after his win.

Before the prize awards, there’s live entertainment; well, to backing tracks – Terry Seals then Maximus Dan who wrote and performed the Trinidad and Tobago world cup song, ‘Soca Warriors.’

Trinidad & Tobago
Maximus Dan.

He’s also a bit of philosopher; “spendin’ all day in bed don’t achieve nothin’ – just means you well rested!

Prize time next; the podium girls are lovely, lovely – but I could be their granddad.

Trinidad & Tobago
Very beautiful, but wrong generation.

I lose Pete, I can’t find him anywhere – but who’s that on the podium singing along with Donadio and Franco?

Trinidad & Tobago
Yeah, it’s Pete!

Jeez, I could use a shower.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Trinidad & Tobago – Day One, Laid Back at the Beacon Cycling Festival

The original plot for late March and early April was to 'embed' with the Kingsnorth guys near Gent and cover Wevelgem, De Panne and Flanders. But then up popped Peter Jacques and Erin Hartwell, the movers and shakers who put together the teams for the Trinidad & Tobago Beacon Cycling Festival.

Trinidad & Tobago – Day Six, Roberto Storms Off at Arima Velodrome

I felt like one of those football reporters at the racing here in Trinidad & Tobago at the Arima Velodrome, who has the copy all neatly spell checked; then the 2-1 down losing side bangs in two in the last 90 seconds. Roberto Chiappa was going to win the sprint final 2-0 against Home Boy, Sellier.

Trinidad & Tobago – Day Three, Queens Park Circuit Race

The trouble with getting up before 06:00 and not getting to bed 'til 01:45 is that by the time the next day - that's today, comes around, it seems like last year. And today is the circuit race at Queens Park.

Trinidad & Tobago – Day Two, Beacon Cycling Festival

It's always good to wake up at 05:50 to an ear-nipping message on the BlackBerry - but that's life, I'm in Paradise for the Beacon Cycling Festival but life goes on back in the 'real world.' Where, I've just been made aware, all of the airports are closed due to the hazard of ash from the volcanic eruption in Iceland - they're hiring at Burger King down town Port of Spain and I have my application in.

Trinidad & Tobago – Day Eight, Off to Tobago

If you want to escape from politics, Trinidad & Tobago ain't the place to come. In Rituals coffee shop they have the novel idea of screening the News channel, where politicians pontificate endlessly about the upcoming election (sound familiar, folks in the UK?) whilst 'New country' wails from the PA.

Trinidad & Tobago – Day Ten, Dwight Yorke Stadium Criterium

We race at the Dwight Yorke Stadium today. "Abraham takes on the world," said the headline in Thursday's paper; USA, Canada, Jamaica, Argentina, Germany, Austria, Switzerland - that's not a bad cross section. But did he beat the world here in Trinidad & Tobago? All will be revealed.

At Random

Lotto Zesdaagse van Hasselt 2007 – Day 3

Lotto Zesdaagse van Hasselt 2007. It's 18.00, the juniors are up and keeping the red cross busy. At a time when any sensible person is contemplating a movie then a nice pasta and bottle of red at their favourite Italian restaurant in the company of their sweetheart, we're just about to start work.

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 5; Ypres – Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, 156 km. Boom Wins and Nibali Extends

When you’re in the Tour village, the sun is shining and the riders’ kit is so clean it almost glows, their tans are the colour of mahogany and the smiles for the pretty girls are a mile wide, who wouldn’t want to be a professional cyclist? But when you see men like Sagan and Cancellara on their knees today, sodden, crash scarred and with the prospect of having to do it all again, tomorrow then you remember that it can also be a long ways from ‘ice cream and fairies’ on le Tour.

Kian Emadi – “the team sprint is a big focus”

GB's 21 year-old Kian Emadi – another product of British Cycling’s ‘Podium Programme’ which churns out a seemingly endless stream of super-fast track men - confirmed that his fourth place in the world kilometre championship was no flash in the pan with a sub 59 second ride to make him one of the fastest men in history. The tall man from Stoke-on-Trent took time to speak to VeloVeritas not long after he returned from Mexico.

Grenoble Six Day 2006 – Fourth Night

It was musical jerseys last night, Franco & Alex Aeschbach took over in the lead, Michael & Alex Rasmussen swopped the leader's jerseys for the points leaders maillot vert but Jozi & Martin lost the combine jersey to DeFauw & Van Mechelen of Belgium.

Katie Archibald – European Individual and Team Pursuit Champion 2014

Katie Archibald has been at it again; winning major championships. This time it’s the European Individual and Team Pursuit Championships in... Guadaloupe? Those French...

So what was Nicholas Parsons doing at the Shay Elliott Memorial race in 2005?

Truth be told it wasn't him but his double, Paul Tabak, manager of Dutch outfit BRC Kememesland-burgundy blazer, black gingham shirt, grey flannels and shades-dapper guy! Dead ringer for Nicholas. A tad incongruous among the club jerseys, tee-shirts and fleeces at the managers' meet though. The UCI guys were really nicely turned out in blue, logo-ed shirts and body-warmers, so now you know where all that money goes.